The World Health Organization’s questionable spending… $200 million a year on travel?

U.S. President Donald Trump recently put the World Health Organization (WHO) in the spotlight after criticizing the organization for its failures to handle the Chinese coronavirus and for covering up the outbreak.

With the United States being WHO’s largest contributor, Trump made headline news around the world when he announced on March 14 that his administration will temporarily defund the organization, while they conduct an investigation.

Predictably, mainstream media went into an immediate frenzy, with countless US politicians joining in to lambast the president’s decision while praising WHO.

But what does WHO do? Who else funds them? And what do they do with the money?

Let’s begin with the first question: What do they do?

According to the World Health Organization’s website they work worldwide “to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable.”

They state that their mission is to “ensure that a billion more people have universal health coverage, to protect a billion more people from health emergencies, and provide a further billion people with better health and well-being.”

The organization was founded in 1948. They are headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and are effectively an agency of the United Nations (UN).

What is the UN?

The UN was founded in 1945 and is described as an “intergovernmental organization” made up of 193 Member States.

Its website boasts that the their objectives are to maintain global peace and security, sustain development, offer humanitarian relief, and focus on human rights.

More recently, the UN has appointed several countries with major human rights abuses to their Human Rights Panel. Countries with appalling human rights records like, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Pakistan, Libya, Eritrea, Qatar, and Sudan.

Such a friendly group.

These fine leaders will be “responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe and for addressing situations of human rights violations and make recommendations on them.”

The WHO, not to be outclassed by the UN, also boasts all sorts of good stuff.

On gender:
“To ensure that different groups of women and men, boys and girls, have equal opportunities to achieve their full health potential.”

Equity:
“To enhance fairness in the distribution of health across populations.”

Human rights:
“To produce greater health outcomes through the advancement of the right to health and other health-related human.”

So far, so good.

Next question. Who funds the WHO? 

Not surprisingly, the United States takes the top spot with over $400 million in voluntary contributions. 

China is way at the bottom with approximately $10 millions in voluntary contributions. 

What does WHO spend money on?

(Please note that we’ll focus on the questionable stuff only)

A PDF copy of their official audited financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2018 is available for download.

So let’s examine.

But first… some accounting 101.

The figures represented in the financial statements are in the thousands:

What this means is very simple, you just add an extra 000 at the end.

Therefore 366,462 becomes $366,462,000.

So let’s analyze WHO’s travel expenses and see exactly how much they spent in 2018. 

For travel (shown on page 55), it reads:

“The cost of travel includes both WHO staff and non-staff participants in meetings, consultants and representatives of member states paid by the organization. Travel expenses include airfare, per diem, and other travel related costs.”

Per Diem is just a fancy word for daily allowance for living expenses (I had to look it up).

Here’s how much WHO spent on travel:

So there’s our answer… $191.6 million dollars spent on travel in 2018. Which I suppose is better than the $201 million they spent the previous year. 

If you divide $191.6 million by 365 days, that’s $525,178 per day!

Assuming they have, let’s say 100 people out traveling every single day. That equals to $5,251 per person each day.

Perhaps someone should inform WHO about video conferencing for their meetings. They may save a buck or two that way.

But maybe, like the thousands of “pro environment / climate change” politicians that fly around the world to meet and discuss environmental issues, they haven’t heard of such technology yet.

What else is in those statements?

$15.4 million on equipment, vehicles, and furniture (down from $35 million the previous year, not bad!)

$177.5 million on general expenses (your guess as to what that is, is as good as mine)

And $931 million on staff.

According to their website, WHO employs about 7,000 people.

Based on rough match, that’s an average of $133,000 per employee, though not equally distributed, as WHO executives earn substantially more.